Q & A with ThisLife co-founder Andrea Johnson
1) ThisLife is genius and long overdue -- how long have you been working on this project and were you worried that, in the meantime, someone else would launch something similar?
We've been working on ThisLife for 2 years now. Our focus is always on building the best possible product for our customers, but we do worry about that. That's an anxiety every entrepreneur shares. We try to take that energy and channel it back into creating the best user experience we can. We focus on customer service and really listening to our users and being responsive to their feedback. We think that is the difference maker. We also focus on privacy and security for our customers so we can earn their trust and empower them to share as little or as much as they want.
2) How did you keep the momentum going through the two-year process?
The energy and momentum came from our personal connection to the problem. Our own family photos and videos were scattered across our phones, computers, cameras, hard drives and social networks. It was such a mess and I had finally had it! And I think many families can relate to that situation. This was a problem we wanted to solve for ourselves and that fueled us. We were looking for a way to get all of our photos centrally located, protected and organized -- and also beautifully displayed -- so that we could enjoy them and share them with our family and friends. We've gotten amazing feedback from friends, family and our customers over these two years and that has allowed us to keep building and pushing ourselves.
3) I love the concierge email that I received after I signed up. What was the catalyst for that aspect?
We're building a product for our customers to use for the long term and having a special level of service -- establishing trust and creating an amazing experience -- is a big part of that. We want our customers to know that we are there for them when they need us and that we're always listening.
4) Why did you decide to reach out to military families?
We're a husband and wife team. We see ThisLife, first and foremost, as a family product. It's useful for any family, but particularly for families who have been separated geographically. We thought ThisLife could be a useful tool to help service members abroad stay in touch and connected to their family members at home -- privately and securely. Above all, we wanted to say thank you to veterans and military families for their extraordinary service and sacrifice. They protect us every day. This is our way of protecting the photos and videos they take and treasure.
5) Military families are social media junkies - which feature do you think will most appeal to them?
We now have a feature called "Stories" which are like living albums. You can create a story about anything (favorite vacations, your holiday celebrations) and then add the photos, videos and even audio notes that relate to the story. You can create as many stories as you want and then invite your family and friends to be viewers or even contributors. The albums are as private as you want them to be. This feature has been a huge hit with our users and social media junkies will love it.
6) What's the next step for ThisLife?
We have two big things coming. We already have iPhone and iPad apps available and I'm happy to say that Android apps are coming soon. We're also going to be creating more publishing tools -- both digital and physical publishing.